Normally I don’t write about pre-clinical things unless they are particularly interesting. You guessed it; I found a preclinical item that is interesting.

According to a recent published study by Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University the receptor CCR5, which is targeted by already approved HIV drugs that are on the market is also key in the driving of prostate cancer metastases. This suggests that by blocking this receptor we might also slow prostate cancer spread.

The study published online in the journal Cancer Research, researchers show that the receptor CCR5 best known for its role in HIV therapy may also be involved in driving the spread of prostate cancer to the bone, the most common site for prostate cancer spread.

“Because this work shows we can dramatically reduce metastasis in pre-clinical models, and because the drug is already FDA approved for HIV treatment we may be able to test soon whether this drug can block metastasis in patients with prostate cancer,” said Pestel, the senior author of the study.
This study builds on previous research from Dr. Pestell’s lab that showed that CCR5 signaling was key in the spread of aggressive forms of breast cancer to the lungs. Given that prostate cancer cells were attracted to the bone and brain, Pestell’s team investigated whether CCR5 could play a role in prostate cancer metastases as well.

They found that CCR5 was more highly expressed in prostate cancer tissue compared with normal tissue, and even more highly expressed in metastases compared with primary tumors. “In fact, we noticed that patients who had a lower expression of the CCR5-pathway genes had a longer survival time, whereas high expression of these CCR5 genes was associated with a shorter overall survival,” said co-first author Xuanmao Jiao, Ph.D., and an instructor in the department of Cancer Biology at Jefferson.
They concluded that CCR5 can play a role in the progression of prostate cancer and that it might be possible to use already FDA approved drugs that target CCR5 to treat advanced prostate cancer. If it can be demonstrated that controlling this pathway slows down prostate cancer metastases, given that these drugs have already passed muster with the FDA their use in treating prostate cancer can be comparatively quick.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.